Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ooh-Baby-Baby! How to Make Salt-N-Pepa's Push-It Jackets- EZ!

Can you believe it's been 25 years since Salt-N-Pepa released their debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious?!! It only seems like yesterday when I was at my elementary school skating parties, skatin' my little heart out to Push It!  Like making a pass around the skating rink:  what goes around, comes around! And Salt-N-Pepa have mos-def been making a comeback in the past few years, with a 2011 reunion tour, and a reality TV show on VH1.

With their recent surge in popularity, what also stands out about the Salt-N-Pepa of the 1980s was their fly, brightly colored, urban-collegiate-clubwear fashion.  Ya'll know what I'm talkin' 'bout here.....the famous varsity-style jackets they wore in their Push It video and also pictured above.  Those varsity jackets were custom-made for S n P- right down to the letter patches.  And now that Salt-N-Pepa are popular again, it seems like everyone wants to replicate this look.

From my fashion design background- I have developed a keen sense of trend forecasting, coupled with an appreciation of reviving old trends into new fads.  Back in 2006, my "trend-dar" inside of me told me to "push it".  "Push it, real good!"  It was around Halloween and my boyfriend at the time, Jay, and I were trying to decide what kind of costumes to be.  You have to understand- Halloween is a big deal for me.  I love making awesome costumes!  It's been a love of mine that dates back to watching my seamstress mom & industrial designer dad collaborate on making the coolest halloween costumes for me as a little kid.  I was super lucky.  

As I grew into an adult, my love of making Halloween costumes never ceased.  And now, I had a partner in crime with Jay.  He & I scratched our heads and thought a bit....what could we be?  Maybe it was our shared love of music that led us to want to be Salt-N-Pepa for Halloween.  Why Salt-N-Pepa?  'Cuz I knew he & I could pull this off really well.  We both shared a love for retro, funky, hip-hop, too!  Jay would be Pepa- he was taller than me and had long red curly hair at the time.  And I would be Salt- I was shorter, with dark curly hair.  It was perfect!  And we'd start the Salt-N-Pepa trend in 2006 with our Halloween costume.  

Making the Salt-N-Pepa varsity jackets worn in the Push It video was a fun project for both of us to work on together.  There was a lot of brainstorming and problem-solving that challenged us in creating a fairly cheap costume that replicated the original inspiration as best as we could.  And we pulled it off, thankfully.  We were a hit at the Halloween parties....and we kept the jackets for years afterwards.  I even entered us into the etsy Halloween costume contest back in 2007.  We didn't win, but we made the blog.  Oh...and just to show you how much I really love making Halloween costumes- I also entered my Mothra costume into this contest, but only won 3rd place in the Sci-Fi grouping.

Last year, I finally posted a pic of Jay & I as Salt-N-Pepa on my flickr page.  Wowee!  I was not really prepared for the response I received.  In the month before Halloween of 2010, I had so many inquiries about the jackets.  By this time, Jay and I had transitioned into being good friends, and when we parted from our old apartment- he gave me the Salt-N-Pepa jackets.  I eventually made a deal with someone & sold the jackets to them on etsy. 

Not only did I receive a lot of inquiries about the jackets, but I got a lot of people who wanted to know how to make these jackets.'s my quick 'n dirty tutorial of making the PUSH IT Jackets.  Bare with me here- I had to re-enact the making of the jackets by using hand-drawn sketches.  I will try to be as thorough as possible, tho!
Salt-N-Pepa aka Steph-N-Jay (Halloween 2006)

First off- Supplies!
*  White Puffer Jacket- Cheap!  (check thrift stores, close-out stores, etc)
*  If you can't find a cheap white puffer jacket- buy an oversized white fleece sweatshirt
*  If you end up going the sweatshirt route, you'll need a molded separating zipper for the front.
*  Fabric paint for colorblocking the jacket.  I like Folk Art Fabric "Brush-On" Paint by Plaid Enterprises:
Colors needed: Red, Yellow, Black, Green 
***NOTE!  Buy several bottles for certain colors that cover more colorblocked areas:  at least 4-5 bottles for the yellow; 2-3 bottles for the black & red, and 1 bottle for the green.
*  Brushes for fabric paint:  You'll need some large ones to cover the surface area in painting the colorblock
*  Slick Dimensional Paint by "Tulip" in Black (used for outlining certain shapes)
*  Felt- several sheets of white, black, red, and green.  Make sure you get sheets sized larger than 8.5" by 11", as some of the pieces you will be cutting from the felt are a little larger than those dimensions
* Scissors to cut
*  Computer paper to print stencils
*  Drop Cloth for painting and laying jackets to dry (several garbage bags will work as an alternative)
***Note, most craft supplies can be found at your local craft/ art store-Jo-Anns, Michaels, Ben Franklins, etc - even possibly Wal-Mart.
*  Paper Towels, Rags for painting (cleaning & drying brushes)
*  Cups of Water for each paint color (cleaning brushes)

Painting the Colorblocking on the Jacket Bodies:
*  If you use a sweatshirt for your jacket base, here's a tutorial that shows you how to sew a zipper down the front of the sweatshirt.
*  Once you've installed your zipper into the sweatshirt, or you have your puffer jacket, let's start off color-blocking the front of the jacket by painting it.  
*  Clear off an area on your floor or large work table and put the drop cloths down. 
*  Get the paints out- with your paper towels/ rags and cups of water for each color.  We will be painting with yellow, red, and black on the front of the jacket.
*  If you are using a sweatshirt, you should stuff it with plastic bags just in case the paint bleeds through.   The paint shouldn't bleed through on a puffer jacket, since there's a lot of thickness/ lining
*  Place jacket on dropcloths- front side, face up.
*  Paint the colorblocking according to my sketch here:
*  The "elbow patches" should be painted as a 9-10" long x 5-6" wide oval in RED.  Outline each oval using the slick black dimensional Tulip paint
*  The black colorblocking at the sleeves will start at mid-armhole and curve down to about 3" up from the cuff.  
*  Let the front dry for at least 24 hrs.

*  Once the front is dry, flip the jacket over to the back and paint it according to my colorblocking diagram.  You will use all colors as you had used in the front, with the addition of the green paint:
*  Follow my guidelines above when painting.  The green box should be placed about 2 inches down from where the yellow and white colorblocking touch.
*  Make sure you cover the jacket in paint at the side seams and underneath the sleeves.  You don't want to have white outlines in the colorblocking on your jacket.
*  Let the back dry for 24 hrs

Cutting & Gluing the Stencils:
*  The Varsity-Style letter patches will be made from the Felt, as well as the Comedy/ Tragedy masks on the front of the jacket, and the Salt-N-Pepa logo on the back
*  Use the Varsity font found as a free download or on MS Word programs, to create your stencils. Here's what is spelled out on the jackets in the text:
IDOL MAKER:  placed vertically down the front on the wearer's right.  White Outline= Red Felt; Black Inner= Green Felt.  Size letters to be about 2"- 3" tall
LET THERE BE MUSIC:  placed on the front on the wearer's left; circling the drama mask appliques.  Colors are exactly as shown above.  Size letters to be about 1.5"- 2" tall
'S' and 'P' Letter Patches:  S to be centered inside red oval elbow patch on wearer's right; P to be centered inside red oval on wearer's left.  Colors are exactly as shown above.  Size Letters to be about 5"-6" tall.
Here's a step-by-step pictorial instruction of making the felt letters:
Print Letters from Computer, Cut from Paper to make stencil.
Trace Outline of Letter Stencil with Fabric Marker onto Felt.  **Note, do not follow this example for color!
Cut out from Felt
Go back to your paper stencil and cut out the inner letter stencil.
Place stencil on contrast 'inner letter' color felt; trace; cut out.
Glue Inner Felt Letter to Outer Felt Outline Letter.  Let dry for 24 hrs.
Let the Cutting Begin!  Park yourself in front of the TV or put on your favorite tunes.  Hopefully your partner in crime will be cutting their portion for their jacket.  Just don't blame me for carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Below are the stencils for the Comedy & Tragedy Masks; as well as the Salt-N-Pepa logo on the back of the jacket  These will be cut from the felt, as well.
Size the Mask to be about 5"-6" tall.  Cut Mask from Green Felt.  Cut Eyes & Mouth from Black Felt & glue them to the Green.  Outline the Green Mask with Slick Dimensional Tulip Black Paint.  Let dry for 24 hrs.
Same directions as above, but the body of the mask will be cut from RED felt.
Size this logo so that it fits a 9"-10" square format.  Cut S/P logo from RED felt.  Cut the "alt", "N", and "epa" from white felt.  These will be glued inside the green box that you painted on the back of the jacket.  Make sure that you size this logo to fit inside the box with at least 1/2"- 1" of the green showing around it.

After you have cut and glued all of the text and logos, place them on to the jacket and glue them down.  PUSH IT REAL GOOD!!!  ;)  Please excuse my crappy photos of the jackets, but they give you a nice view of how the text and logos should be placed.
Front of Jacket:

Back of Jacket:

Keep in mind, I've tried to give general measurements on the dimensions of the text and placement of the colorblocking on the jacket.  This is sized for a small- medium woman's jacket.  If you are larger or smaller- please size up & down proportionately.  

Completing the Look:
* Check out ballet/dancewear stores for full length lycra leotards.  American Apparel has them too.
*African Kofia Hat found here.
*  Red knock-off pleather boots can be found at most teen/ cheap shoe/ discount stores (Wet Seal, Alloy, etc) or even thriftstores!
*  Giant Gold Rope Chain can be found at costume stores/ gag shops
*  Door Knocker earrings.....A MUST!
*  Bright Red Lipstick + Black Eyeliner ( go for the Wet 'n Wild at your local drugstore)

So....after all of that painting, gluing, cutting....LET THERE BE MUSIC, YA'LL!!!!

****Please note-  If you are interested in purchasing a jacket, there is a 4 week processing time.  Payment is expected up front.  No exceptions.


  1. Hi Steph! I was searching online for Salt n Peppa costume ideas and found yours! I love what you did and I was amazed how identical yours was compared to Salt n Peppa's jackets! Could you please tell me where you found your jackets at? And how much did you spend on everything? Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  2. Hello! Thanx for your comments!! I found the jackets at a cheap teen fashion store in the ghetto mall outside of Columbus OH, years ago. They were $25. Paints were probably about $15-$20. Brushes, $5. And felt was 20 cents a sheet....maybe $2, total. Glue was $5/ bottle. These are all approx. amounts. So, with both jackets and all supplies needed, a total of under $100. Good luck and hope this was helpful! Best, Steph

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  4. Hello Ms.Sad jus wanted to thank you for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. Me and my cousin had planned on being salt-n-pepa but your web site took us to another level. and the end result was winners of the Halloween contest and a trip to Vagas and I couldnt leave without thanking you cause we were a HIIIITTTT! thank you sooooooo much

  5. Omg!!!! That is awesome!!! I'm so happy that I could help inspire you with a winning costume!!! That's an honor!!! Have fun in Vegas and remember to ' Push it real good'....ha ha!

  6. Dear Ma.Sad,

    I re-created your fabulous Salt n' Pepa jackets for Halloween this year! It was a total hit! Thank you for your genius that is craft! Check out my blog for pics:


  7. Hi! I absolutely love your jackets! I have been scouring the internet over the last 6 months searching for replica Salt n Pepa jackets or anyone who would make them as I am not crafty at all. I would love a couple of your jackets for me and my 2 best friends (I've been friends with for 30 years!) my upcoming 40th birthday party next year. Please tell me you could work your magic for me-there is no compensation I wouldnt be willing to pay!

  8. Hi Ms Sad.. Not sure how often you check the blog. I am willing to pay if you can make me one of these. I have not one creative bone in my body. I'm not too far from you but I will pay for shipping etc. Thanks! Tameka S.

  9. If anyone knows how to duplicate these jackets please email me at

  10. Hello ms sad how do I go about placing a order this is great I love what you have done !

  11. Please notify me I am interested in 2 jackets

  12. Did anyone get a response on how to order these jackets?

  13. I would like to buy one of these jackets!
    how do i get in touch with you??

  14. Planning on lipsyncing "Whatta Man" in a contest at our company holiday party & thought about costume ideas to up our game. THANK YOOOOUUUUUU!!!! lol

  15. Are you still making these jackets??

  16. Are you still making these jackets??

    1. I will be attempting this soon. Email me at

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  18. If anyone wants these jackets send me your contact info to I will be attempting this in the next week or so. As soon as I am finished I will send pics to those who have contacted me and if you like what you see I will start making them for you.

  19. Hello. I have a costume party to attend in November. Are you still making these jacket? I need two jackets if possible.

  20. Email me for prices on the jackets.